Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beware of Tire Wear! (Part 2 of 3)

There is more than one type of tire wear that can occur when there are underlying mechanical issues with a vehicle.  The additional weight and bulk of a camper adds to the instability already present with the worn tires, increasing the chances of accidents or other damages.  Keeping on top of tire wear is an important precautionary measure in safe driving and towing.

Continuing from our previous entry, three additional types of tire wear are:

Feathering is a condition when the edge of each tread rib develops a slightly rounded edge on one side and a sharp edge on the other.  By running your hand over the tire, you can usually feel the sharper edges before you'll be able to see them.  The most common cause of feathering is incorrect toe-in setting, which can be cured by having it set correctly.  Occasionally toe-in will be set correctly and this wear pattern still occurs.  This is usually due to deteriorated bushings in the front suspension, causing the wheel alignment to shift as the car moves down the road.


This type of wear usually results from consistent under-inflation.  When a tire is under-inflated, there is too much contact with the road by the outer treads, which wear prematurely.  Tire pressure should be checked with a reliable pressure gauge.  When this type of wear occurs, and the tire pressure is known to be consistently correct, a bent or worn steering component or the need for wheel alignment could be indicated.  Bent steering or idler arms cause incorrect toe-in and abnormal handling characteristics on turns.

Excessive wear at the center of the tread indicates that the air pressure in the tire is consistently too high.  The tire is riding on the center of the tread and wearing it prematurely.  Many times, the "eyeball" method of inflation (pumping the tires up until there is no bulge at the bottom) is at fault; tire inflation pressure should always be checked with a reliable tire gauge.  Occasionally, this wear pattern can result from outrageously wide tires on narrow rims.  The cure for this is to replace either the tires or the wheels.  

In the final part of our 'Beware of Tire Wear!' segment, we'll give a general overview with advice on keeping your tires in good shape and avoiding frequent tire replacement.